"Wow, this smells like…I've never smells anything like this" or "This doesn't smell like Dolce & Gabban's Light Blue. What do you have that smells like what I usually wear?"are a couple of the whispered comments of customers at the brick & mortar store of Providence Perfume Co, at Providence, RI 02903. I have recently written on the Aesthetic Principle which, like the pleasure principle, should, I believe, lead our choices on fragrances in an increasingly rationed world. And thus I find it pertinent that my review of Ivy Tower should follow it. Here is a green floral that is beautiful, delicate, different and missing the "herbal" component of some all naturals, which to echo its perfumer "doesn't smell like Light Blue and I'm OK with that."
Green fragrances are a difficult bunch to render in all natural essences, mainly because the green-smelling materials fall into two groups which each possesses one stumbling block: the natural elements, such as galbanum resin, are either very hard to dose in a composition of all naturals without overpowering the blend (Chanel No.19 and Jacomo Silences are not perfumes for wussies!) or else are so subtle that they vanish quickly, such as the cucumber-tea note of mimosa blossom.; the more convincing synthetic materials such as cis-3 hexenol with its cut-grass feeling, Ligustral (snapped leaves) and Lilial with its green lily of the valley aura are of course off grounds for a natural perfumer.
Chanel No.19 Poudre tried to reconcile the green monster with the emerald-hued polished nails with the grassy rolling waif in gauzy whites and it presents a modern "temperate" effort that is valiant, if a bit tamed, for the lovers of the original Chanel icon that inspired it. I don't recall many other contemporary fragrances in the delicate greens genre that truly made it (A Scent by Issey Miyake though quite good never met with the success it deserved, Bvlgari's Omnia Green Jade is sorta too tame for its own good), excluding the niche scene for obvious reasons.
So Charna Ethier exhibits skill in rendering a rustic rained upon scene from somewhere north; like a secluded private garden in York, in North Yorkshire, I had once visited, all rainy soaked paths and ivy climbing on stone-walls retaining the rain drops and reflecting them like giant water bubbles that make your bones chill a bit even in the dead of summer. The fragrance of Ivy Tower like those bubbles takes on shades of green, blue, and gentle lilac, depending on where it hits on a warm, blood-pulsing vein and hovers there for a while in the confluence of watery sprites and drowning Ophelias. Eventually it takes on a more customary jasmine, lilies and woodsy notes path, but the journey up to there is dreamy enough to make a heart melt a bit.
Ivy Tower (green) is part of a new collection of natural perfume oils by all naturals perfumer Charna Ethier of Providence Perfume Co, whose Samarinda has been reviewed on these pages before. The rest of the collection includes Rose 802 (pink), Orange Blossom Honey (orange), Summer Yuzu(yellow), Sweet Jasmine Brown (blue) and Violet Beauregarde (violet). The oils are color coded, which is supremely practical when sampling. The choice of an oil format (admittedly not one of my strong suits as I usually like the abundance effect that an alcohol based format allows) stems from the customer base: people blending essences at Providence's popular perfume bar, citing a desire for portability and longevity.
The given notes for Ivy Tower by Providence Perfume Co are: jonquil, mimosa, geranium, jasmine, narcissus, blue tansy, lily, sandalwood. Info and purchase at www.providenceperfume.com
In the interests of disclosure I was sent a sample by the perfumer for reviewing purposes.